Albuquerque’s City Council continues to build on its first place national ranking for protecting open space.
On Monday the City Council approved the purchase of a 420 acre parcel of land adjacent to the City’s existing Gutierrez Canyon Open Space in the East Mountains. City Councilors Isaac Benton and Martin Heinrich spearheaded the legislation, committing $500,000 to the project in partnership with $1.25 million from the New Mexico State Legislature and $250,000 from the State Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The land will be entirely deeded to the City of Albuquerque by the Trust for Public Land.
The legislation’s approval will improve access to a valuable space off of New Mexico Highway 14 (the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway) and provide space for a new trailhead in Gutierrez Canyon. The expansion will provide the public an opportunity to view a wide variety of wildlife including deer, bears and a multitude of bird species. Since its purchase in 1963, access to the 300 acre Gutierrez Canyon open space has been limited to an area through a nearby residential neighborhood.
The Turquoise Trail / Gutierrez Canyon open space is being made available to the City of Albuquerque for a fraction of the cost that would have to be spent outright for its purchase. “This is a fantastic deal for the city and for our neighbors in the East Mountains. We are very lucky to be able to protect such an important piece of open space in an area where development pressures continue to mount,” said Heinrich. “I can’t wait to hike there,” he added.
In July of this year, the Trust for Public Land ranked Albuquerque first place nationally for its percentage of land devoted to open space – one quarter of its total area, not including recent purchases. Both Heinrich and Benton believe that open space is an important component of our city’s quality of life and is often a significant reason that people choose to live in Albuquerque.